I Unironically Love Heroes

One time, in high school, a girl asked me, “Are those the same jeans you wore yesterday?” and I didn’t know what to say.

Technically, they had been the same jeans I wore all week, but people rarely noticed me, much less spoke to me. What was I supposed to say to her? Yes, they were? Then she would ask me why I was still wearing them, instead of wearing something new, and then I would either have to lie, or tell the truth.

And the truth was sad.

I only had two pairs of pants, and the other pair was too dirty to wear, so I was stuck with this one until the weekend, when maybe my mother would take some clothes to the laundry mat so we could have something clean for the next week.

But I didn’t want to say that. I didn’t want to admit that my wardrobe consisted of only things I could carry in a single duffle bag. Everyone else in class had cool clothing, nice sweatshirts, and jeans from designers I knew nothing about.

They all cared about those things, and I didn’t have any of them, so in my teenager mind, they wouldn’t care about me.

When I didn’t answer the girl, she just giggled.

Then she turned to the girl sitting in the desk next to her, and whispered something. My imagination filled in the blank when a small trickle of laughs filtered through the room.

They made fun of my shabby clothing for a couple of chuckles, probably never reflecting on the fact it took a toll on my mind. I heard a quote once—“the axe forgets, but the tree remembers”—and it perfectly encapsulates that moment.

I doubt any of those high schoolers would remember that moment.

But I’ll carry it with me forever.

And it wasn’t a huge moment. I wasn’t beaten to a bloody pulp or sexually assaulted. But it happened more than once, and in every aspect of life.

When I joined the FFA in high school, I did so because I didn’t want to go home after school. I needed someplace to go, and FFA met every Monday and Friday. Unfortunately, I almost had to quit because new members are required to buy a hideous purple jacket with their name stitched over the heart. It was $50 for the privilege of fitting in.

Which was $50 too much.

Another time, when someone asked if they wanted to study together, and I said yes, they followed it up with, “Let’s study at your house. My room is messy.”

I had to tell them no, but I didn’t explain. I didn’t want to say, “I don’t have a room.” I thought I was pathetic—my life was pathetic—and if I voiced the reality of my situation, everyone would know. Everyone would laugh. But if I kept quiet, I could keep pretending I was normal.

But in all those moments, there was always a hero—someone who was always a cut above the others.

After most of the class laughed about my two-day jeans, a girl came to speak with me after class. She didn’t mention the jeans at first, but after a few minutes she said, “We have this local exchange at my church, and you can get clothing for free, or just trade in some of your things for new ones. It’s really cool.”

And when I was about to quit FFA because I couldn’t afford the gaudy purple jacket, the coach paid for it instead. He told me it was okay, even when I tried to deny his kind offer. He said—“we don’t want to lose someone of your talent.”

And when I was about to cancel studying with a classmate, because I didn’t have a room, they said they would just clean their room instead. I told they didn’t have to, but they insisted. It was better than not hanging or studying at all.

I’ll remember all those moments, too, just as much as I’ll remember the feelings of embarrassment or shame.

Because those people were heroes. They were unironically good. People who, when I felt pathetic and alone, made life seem bright and inviting.

The darkness in the world made their minor acts of heroism prominent in my mind. My mother’s boyfriend was so drunk, and so destructive, that one night I feared me and my brother would get hurt. He was yelling, and throwing things at my mother with such force, it shattered the tiles on the kitchen counter.

I grabbed Marcus—7 years my younger—and then the cordless phone (the time before cellphones were super common) and rushed him to the car in the driveway. I got him inside and locked the car doors just before my mother’s boyfriend reached us.

He banged on the window, trying to shatter it, while I dialed 911.

I remember being really afraid, and when he tried to coax us out, by saying he would calm down, I said nothing. What was I supposed to say? He wasn’t trustworthy. He wasn’t going to calm down. And if I told him the police were on their way, he would just get angry all over again.

Unfortunately, the police weren’t the heroes I had hoped they would be.

They showed up, but my mother refused to press charges. They spoke to her boyfriend, and got Marcus and me out of the car, but they left an hour later.

I’ll remember that, too.

Heroes could come from anywhere, and it wasn’t someone’s title that made them one—it was their actions.

As a child, I loved my uncle’s comic book collection. I read about the X-Men, Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, and even some of Spawn and Venom.

I loved them. They reminded me of all the great people who helped, even when they didn’t need to.

And when I played video games—the ones with stories about rescuing innocents in distress, or defeating ultimate evils—I couldn’t get enough. The heroes of those stories were my favorite. Even an anti-hero, or someone who had turned from the darkness and now faced the light—they were my favorite.

The heroes did things.

They didn’t stand by and allow something to happen. They always stepped up to the plate, ready to help, even if it cost them social standing, money, or time.

That’s the true definition of a hero. Someone who sacrifices, even when it’s not required. They sacrifice for someone else, or perhaps the greater good.

As an adult, I try to go out of my way to give back to the people. I donate to charities, provide my books free of costs to schools and libraries, and write tales of unironically good heroes who gain all the power, save the world from tyranny or destruction, and have the coolest adventures. That’s the kind of world I want to inhabit—a world of heroes—and I’m going to build it, just in case I can’t find it.

Why did I write this? Why tell the world about my love for heroes? Doesn’t everyone love a good hero?

Sometimes I speak with individuals, and they ask me, “Why not write a story about a villain? Why not write dark fantasy? Or one where the hero loses? That would really subvert my expectations!”

And I understand. No one wants a predictable and boring story. They want fun surprises, and to be kept on their toes. They don’t want to know the ending.

But I refuse to have evil win just to “subvert expectations.” That’s not the world I want to imagine for hundreds of hours—the story I have to write with my own hands. I’ll have surprises—the heroes will encounter difficulties they can’t punch through—but I don’t ever want to write a story about a villain succeeding.

It’s just not for me.

There’s literally no tale I can think of where that happens, and then I end up enjoying it.

Oh, sure. There are plenty of stories where the main character dies in the end, and while they’re not my favorite, I can enjoy them. The key here is that the hero still succeeded in some way. That’s what I want. Victory, power, and glory to go to those who earn it—the heroes.

So, I hope I’ve shed some light on my fascination with heroes.

I love them, plain and simple.

9 thoughts on “I Unironically Love Heroes

  1. This made me tear up a little, and I’m gonna go write an amazing comment on your twitter post about how amazing of an author you are and how glad I am that you had these hero’s in your lives.

    FYI though, you wrote wish instead of with in the “ The darkness in the world” paragraph.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I adore this post. It perfectly encapsulates the moments in the Frith Chronicles when the villain says, “Heroes don’t change the world. People like me do.”

    No one wants the villain to be right.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey, Shami, I read your Love of Heros article, and I am so glad that there were some heros in your life. When you told us about your childhood, and how you went hungry, it made me sad and mad. I thought, there wasn’t one person who noticed and helped you?  I totally believe heros come in all shapes and sizes. You’re my hero. I appreciate all your help with my writing. That you take the time to run the writer’s group. I really, really love the group. Loving your Warlock’s story.  See you Monday. Mary E. Merrell http://www.maryemerrell.com http://www.livingcreations.org

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mary – I wouldn’t be an author without our writer’s group, lol – thank you for the encouragement and kind words. You’re way too good to me. ❤


  4. Thank you
    This spoke directly to my heart
    I needed this
    Thank you

    Also, I agree, anti-heroes are awesome too!

    Deadpool and Black Panther are my favorite comic heroes

    Liked by 1 person

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